Jayson Stark's article today was about Craig Biggio's move to center field and the historic difficulty involved in making that switch. Again Stark plumbs the depth of someone else's research-this one is rank with a slathering of Elias Sports Bureau.
Basically, Stark in his inimitable style finds an obscurity and presents it as history. Biggio has moved from catcher to second base to center field. No one else has ever down that he points out.
Well, listen up friends and I'll tell you a tale about B.J. Surhoff. What's so great about Surhoff, ya say? Well, B.J. is the only man to follow the straight line from catcher to third base to left field. Isn't that significant?! Why were we so unimpressed when Surhoff finally landed in left? It was an historic event.
What about Mike McGeary? He is the only man to be a starting catcher and then play second and short. The whole middle infield! Isn't that historic!
How about the great Brian Downing, the only man to qualify as a starter at catcher, left field, and DH? Historic, right?
Buck Ewing is the only man to follow the straight line from catcher to first base to right field. Hmm...Cal McVey is the only man to play catcher, first base, third base, right field, and pitch. Wow! Cap Anson is the only man to play catch, play both corners, and then left field. Holy Moly! Joe Torre and Todd Zeile are not exactly historic since there're two of them, but they are the only men ever to start at catcher, first base, and third base besides Anson. (By the way, Dale Murphy never started as a catcher in the majors but had he, he would have also qualified at first and center and right.)
That's a whole lot of history or maybe it's just the result of a bored intern who wanted to do a seven-table join. Well, it took me all of five minutes to put a query together to find all starting catchers who started at two other positions according to his criteria. It's not magic and it's not historic. I could have done the same for second base (and did but too many were found).
It's called happenstance. It's interesting but does it really mean anything? No.
Biggio may or may not become a decent center fielder but it has nothing to do with the fact that Juan Samuel had a hard time. (By the way Stark also makes it sound as if Sammy returned to second after one season as an outfielder and stayed there, not true. Samuel lasted most of four years at second and then was a 1B-OF-DH type for the rest of his long career.) A number of other players move from second to center (Derrel Thomas and Ron Gant to name two) but it may have taken them more than a season to make that move. Big deal! (Also, Hardy Richardson went from 3B-CF-2B-CF-LF-2B-LF. And I thought Bobby Bonilla moved around alot.)
I've said it before and I'll say it again Stark is the Carrot Top of analysts. He's more in love with quirky facts than real reporting. Yes, it's interesting to hear what Samuel encountered when he moved from second to center, but to couch it in these "historic" overtones is a disservice to his readers.
Jayson, just because something is unprecedented doesn't make it historic. Write a decent article without a gimmick. Now that would truly be historic.